The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh today issued notice and sought response from the Central Government regarding the low number of vacancies for women candidates in the National Defence Academy, Rashtriya Indian Military College and Rashtriya Military School.

The Bench issued notice on an application filed by Kush Kalra pointing out that the vacancy for the women candidates for 2022 has been limited to 19 and for the first time it is mentioned that the intake in the naval academy is for 30 male candidates only.

Senior Advocate Chinmoy Pradip Sharma appearing for the petitioner stated that an additional affidavit has been filed and that affidavit outlines that out of the 8009 qualified candidates 1002 were women and 7007 were men and in NDA-II 2021 intake will be 400 candidates out of which 208 candidates, including 10 women, will go to the Army. The Navy will take in 42 candidates, including 3 women, while the IAF will admit 120 candidates, of which 6 will be women. Thus, the total number of women to be inducted into the NDA in June 2022 is 19.

The application went on to point out that the notification issued by UPSC for NDA-I 2022 examination showed that the number of women to be inducted remained the same as before. The Application also stated that Union of India in its affidavit dated 20th September 2021 had categorically stated that necessary steps would be taken by May of 2022 but to continue to keep the number of intakes of women candidates at 19 is an arbitrary action and violative of articles 14, 15, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India.

The Bench heard the matter and asked the Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the Centre to explain the reason for the low vacancy fixed for the year 2022.

ASG Bhati submitted that the admissions are underway pursuant to the directions given by the Bench and that the intake is not just connected to the infrastructure but also is based on the requirement of the forces.

The ASG also asked for time to file a detailed affidavit and place on record the ratio for the Army, Air Force and Navy.

In August last year, the Apex Court had by an interim order allowed the women to appear for the entrance test of National Defence Academy and that order was affirmed in September when an application filed by the Defence Ministry asking for vacating that order was dismissed.

In October the Apex Court permitted the female candidates to appear in examinations for RIMC. These directions were passed in a writ petition filed by Kush Kalra which sought directions to allow the female candidates to appear for the examinations for National Defence Academy and Naval Academy Examination as the act of excluding willing and eligible candidates from appearing in such examinations on the ground of sex is a violation of Fundamental Right of Equality.

The Court granted three weeks time to file the affidavit and two weeks' time thereafter to file a rejoinder and has listed the matter for further hearing on March 6.